I can't remember how many times my mother had to tell me to chew with my mouth closed, or that it was not okay to hit and kick and scream when I was angry. Or the countless times she had to ask me to be considerate of others, when all I really wanted was to get my own way. I can happily report that I grew up to be a considerate, tantrum-free woman that chews with her mouth closed, and not so much because of the many times my mother had to repeat it to me. But because these were behaviors that I consistently saw in her and the people around me. In the end, what sticks with us the most, is what we see. We learn by observing more than by following instructions. And so, the main focus when trying to raise children, should be on teaching by example.
I am, by no means an expert in politics. I do not even like to engage in topics related to politics. Lately however, I find this very hard to avoid. As a minority in this country, a single mother of two, an immigrant, proud Mexican and grateful US citizen, I am running out of explanations for my kids regarding the latest events. There seems to be a collective feeling of despair, fear, loneliness and hate. It seems that unity is slipping from our hands and that we are becoming more distant and uncaring. In a world that has come so far in so many areas, we still have much to learn in terms of coexistence, love, peace, unity, kindness and universal brotherhood.
I am running out of resources to explain to my children that this is not the way. With a very clear understanding that "it takes a village to raise a child", I am finding it very difficult to shield them from prejudice, wrong preconceptions and judgements that contribute to collective fear and hate. And even more difficult to expose them to the values, morals and actions that will help raise well-rounded individuals. I try to encourage and praise the acts of kindness and love that come so naturally to them and that are innate to all human beings. And I also try to contribute by teaching them that it all starts with one self. When one individual vibrates in the frequency of love and understanding, it makes it easier for others to do so as well. And so the ripple effect goes further and further. But until we understand that it starts with the individual, there is very little that we can do.
A quote from Charlie Chaplin's 1940s movie "The Great Dictator" seems so relevant today;
"We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.
Even now, my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say 'Do not despair'..."
Do not despair, I say too. We have the power in us to make this world a better place. We have to realize that any small change is important, and that "it takes a village". It takes collective effort to make significant changes, but that collective effort starts with the individual. Whenever you feel like complaining about the current sentiment of despair and hate, ask yourself what you can do to make it better. No small act goes unnoticed. Start vibrating in a higher frequency and you will notice the difference. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Start with you. Start today. Because there might be someone watching you; a child that will try to immitate your behavior or an adult that might find it contagious to just smile and be kind.